Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

What if everything we have been told about Mitt Romney’s electability is wrong? Part 2

What if everything we have been told about Mitt Romney’s electability is wrong? Part 2

A little over two weeks ago, I wondered What if everything we have been told about Mitt Romney’s electability is wrong?  I noted that Romney was slipping in polling vis-a-vis Obama, and that Romney had no history of surviving the types of onslaughts he would face in the general election.

Saturday night’s debate performance surely must give further pause.

What if the $10,000 bet had been offered not during the primaries when poked and prodded by a Rick Perry who visibly was enjoying himself, but on stage in October 2012 when poked and prodded by a smirking Obama?

Romney’s electability is the focus of a devastating article by Jonathan Last at The Weekly Standard, Overestimating Romney.  The subheading says it all, “Aside from getting votes, he’s a great candidate.”  Here’s an exerpt:

Romney’s electoral record becomes even more underwhelming when you examine the particulars. He first attracted national notice in 1994 when he mounted what was considered a strong challenge to incumbent senator Ted Kennedy. But when it came time to vote, Romney lost by 17 points in what turned out to be the best year for Republicans in more than half a century. In 2002, Romney won the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts. This victory—the triumph of a Republican in deep-blue Massachusetts—is now the cornerstone of his 2012 “electability” rationale….

Yet Romney’s victory was, as a matter of raw political power, less impressive than it seems. Romney was actually the fourth in a string of Republican governors who ran the state from 1990 until 2006. Of that group, Romney received the lowest percentage of the vote, failing to break the 50-percent mark in his 2002 victory. He took home a smaller share of the vote even than Paul Cellucci, the political nonentity who won the 1998 election. After three years in office, Romney’s approval rating was so low that he was forced to abandon hope of reelection. Romney’s term concluded with a Democrat winning the governor’s office for the first time in 20 years….

None of this is meant as a judgment on Romney’s worthiness as a candidate or accomplishments as a governor. But it is worth understanding that if elections are markets and candidates products, then Mitt Romney’s problems this time around aren’t some great mystery.

It’s just that no matter where he’s run, whether in primaries or statewide elections, he’s never sold particularly well.

Why would we think it would be different this time in the general election against Obama?


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


I’m not in the least concerned by Romney’s “electability.” He ain’t my first choice in the Primaries? But Mitt is not the issue. 2012 is a referendum on Obama.

2012 won’t be about the Republican. It’s about Obama. 2012 is a referendum on Obama. We could run Daffy Duck (R)… 2012 is a referendum on Obama. We could run Mitt. We could run a Bachmann-Palin ticket with Condi as SoS and Liz Cheney as SecDef and enlist the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders into the Secret Service. Doesn’t matter. 2012 is a referendum on Obama.

That, and 2012 is a referendum on, um, Obama.

Fair comment, to the extent Romney’s election as Governor was more the continuation of a post-Dukakis trend rather than a personal triumph. I didn’t realize, however, that his numbers were so, ahem, interesting on a comparative basis . . .

    Darkstar58 in reply to Edward Wiest. | December 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Possibly the worst part of that 2002 election (not mentioned in the article above) is the fact that he was running against 2 Democrats (yeah, they split the ticket with a “Green party” nominee) and the Democrat (the now forgotten Sharron O’Brien) had just barely gotten the nod herself (She only received 32% of her Primary votes) after an extremely nasty, dirt-throwing, 5 way Democrat primary.

    He beat the slightly less-beaten Democrat and the Green Party candidate who stole votes from her, during one of the strongest Off-Year elections for a sitting President (Bush) ever, in a state which had been controlled by Republicans for 16 years by… getting less then 50% of the vote.

    He didnt “Win” the 2002 MA Gov race – he was handed it; and he still nearly snatched defeat from the hands of victory.

    Romney is no more “electable” then if Obama and the GOP Establishment had been heralding me as such the last 4 years. He has been campaigning for 6 straight years now and cant get more then 50% of his voting base (Republicans and Independents) to even have a positive view of him; let alone punch his name on a ballot.

    If we elect Romney, we not only send a signal that we could care less about a persons actual governing track-record, but that we can easily be taught to ignore said track-record and instead be lead to our deaths at the hands of the self-appointed Elites with idiotic claims that are blatantly incorrect.

Jed Babbin wrote in his TAS article today: “Let’s face it: Mitt Romney is the Republican version of Al Gore.”

Ouch! snicker-snicker

workingclass artist | December 12, 2011 at 9:17 am

Romney is a wealthy technocrat & someone like Rick Perry gets under his skin like a thirsty tick. It’s visceral.

I would expect Perry to have a similar effect on Obama if he faced him in a debate and Perry has his record to back him up.

DINORightMarie | December 12, 2011 at 9:18 am

OT but related – this article by John Hayward over at Human Events about the debates. He nails Romney pretty hard and covers Newt in a fair, unbiased way, too. Here is a key paragraph:

Responding to Romney’s attack on his Washington-insider status, Gingrich devastatingly observed that “the only reason you didn’t become a career politician is that you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994.” If you’re puzzled by Gingrich’s rise to the top of the GOP field, despite the many valid criticisms that can be made of his political record and blizzard of unusual ideas, it’s because Republican primary voters can’t wait to see him [Newt] come off the top ropes and pound Barack Obama into the mat like that. Hell, even Romney cracked up.

(my emphasis added)

Good overall analysis. 🙂

    There is no doubt, ““the only reason you didn’t become a career politician is that you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994.” is going to go down in history as a great response from Newt; and it is a great remark.

For all those Newt haters, I personally am consoled by the fact that Newt can’t clone himself, which means there will have to be some cabinet members et al between him and any direct action (of course, Obama managed to not meet one-on-one with some of his cabinet members in his first two years .. perhaps a list of these would aid in selecting which parts of the government to divest first) with emphasis on the et al.

workingclass artist | December 12, 2011 at 9:26 am

The Huntsman campaign put up a good ad responding to Romney’s $10,000.00 bet with video clips that prove Romney supported the mandate saying Pony up the dough…

I know the intelligentsia prefers smooth debaters but sometimes it is the “gut reaction” that wins voters at the booth, which is why this deal aint’ over till Perry either wins or decides it’s over. He’s been declared dead many times over in every race he’s run and he’s never lost a race yet. He’s got enough money to last into the spring and he’s improving with each debate.

    Yup; that $10,000 bet, just tripping easily out of his mouth like he thought it was a pocket change bet was so offensive.

    I disagree though, about Perry’s debating skill. I suspect that when he is talking about things he knows well, he doesn’t have problems spitting it out. He seems to just not have the breadth and depth of knowledge about national matters that he needs to have. I felt this way about Cain, too. This to me is not about integrity or ultimate ability but about being ready.

DINORightMarie | December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

I believe the “electability” meme is fed both by the establishment Repubs who believe it is “Mitt’s turn” (and that he is the “smooth, cool alternative to Obama” or something), and the Dems who, I believe, are playing that old reverse psychology game: we don’t want to go against Romney, he’s sooooooo strong a candidate, too smart, too blah, blah, blah. It’s all hype, IMHO.

The Dems want Romney because he takes out the chief neck-breaking albatross hanging on Obama – ObamaCare. With Romney as candidate, it is just too easy to say, “Well, we modeled our Health Care plan on yours, Mitt.” Devastating. End of debate. Points all go to Obama.

Why can’t these Mitt water-carriers see this? It’s a no-brainer, to me. But to the establishment, DC loving Republicans, they can’t see it. They just can’t get their heads out of their *ahem*……well, anyway, they just can’t see it.

Newt, by comparison, has a reasoned, logical, and intelligent reply to any such “flip-flopper” or “you supported a national mandate” attack. And, by stating it in a national Obama-Newt debate, where more people will watch because it will be FTW, Newt’s reply will sound wise, measured, and will excoriate Obama for forcing it on the American people. It will cripple Obama and remind voters of the sickening ObamaCare monstrosity.

Yeah, Mitt’s electability is highly overrated. Hello, NRO – are you listening?! 😉

    The DC establishment Republicans cant see it because they were in favor of Obamacare in the first place. See Frum’s assertion that the GOP needed to get behind the bill because it would become popular very quickly (hows that working out now?).

    They are also the same people that pushed Medicare Part D because if the GOP didnt do it, then the Dems would have a winning talking point to draw seniors going into the 2004 election.

    The Demoncrats AND the MSM (but I repeat myself) are pushing to make Romney the Repub nominee, which tells me they think Bambi can beat him (or more likely they can lie and cover up again for Bambi so he wins).

    That right there is enough to make me not trust a Romney candidacy.

    Would I vote for him in the general? Sure. I’d vote for a syphalytic camel too, rather than Bambi. That doesn’t mean Romney is a good choice. 🙁

workingclass artist | December 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that nobody in this race has gone after “the Prince” like Perry has and he’s rattled him each time.

Romney has a visceral reaction to a guy like Rick Perry. It is revealed on TV every time Perry calls him out on his hypocrisy and his pretense. Romney reacts to Perry as if he’s a “stupid hayseed”. Despite the meme you don’t become the longest serving governor of an ornery state like Texas being stupid. You get re-elected by doing your job.

It is this “common folks” approach to calling out pretense & hypocrisy that is innate in a politician like Perry. It’s how he beat KBH by painting her as out of touch with Texans and their values. It’s how he’s exposing Mitt Romney. It’s how he will beat Obama if he wins the nomination.

It’s an instinct that can’t be faked and is an American Trait that jumps out on the screen. Harry Truman had it. It resonates across regions and occupations.

In this election as each candidate tries to tap into that quality only Gov. Perry has the record of his purely American Story and his record of conservative governance that can draw that clear contrast.

Next to Perry on a stage Obama looks like a stuttering political product of euro-style foreign socialist elitism straight out of the liberal idea factory just as Romney looks like a product of countryclub Wall St. political GOP idea factory.

    Perry’s spent too much time on vacation with Grover. It’ll hurt him with the majority of independent and disgruntled democrat voters that will be needed to win this election.

    One of the reasons, I think, that Romney gets so discombobulated with Perry is his psychological, condescending games don’t work on Perry all the time. One of Mitt’s favorite things to do is give his opponent a patronizing pat or rest of the hand on the side of the shoulder, sort of like ‘poor baby’. It worked in one of the early debates but Romney is not as quick to step into Perry’s personal bubble anymore. Mitt only pulls this stunt, it seems, on those chasing him and not on his “equals” like a Newt (equal in Mitt’s mind). So, I deduce, and can be incorrect, that Romney has some scared, chicken sheet traits when it comes to a real fight that might bruise him.

workingclass artist | December 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

OT. Thanks Obama for once again putting America’s security in jeopardy…

“Incredibly, with Mexico still in political chaos and violence along the border showing no signs of abating, the current administration is claiming that a proposed unmanned point-of-entry in West Texas will be a security upgrade.”

I’ve had the feeling that Romney is being propped up due to him being the weakest of the candidates

-Obama can crush him on Romneycare
-Mitt has a record as Governor, whereas Obama still can claim that he hasn’t spent money on things because there was no budget
-Mitt refuses to “go for the jugular” and thinks of politics as a gentleman’s pursuit.
-Romney best exemplifies class warfare that Obama wants to drum up
-He’s stiff and has a an aloof quality to him when he mingles with regular people, much like Obama (bowling, arugula, etc) but the media will hound Mitt on it to help the narrative that he’s out of touch.

We want it to be a referendum on Obama, but I don’t think the narrative is going to reflect that, I tend to think the narrative is going to be “look how much worse it will be if the GOP runs things”

As a former resident of Massachusetts what incenses me the most about Romney’s defense of Romneycare is the blatant, shameless lying he does in defense of it. He constantly says it only affected 8% of the people. Wrong. It affected 100% of taxpayers because 8% didn’t have health insurance. Too many people don’t seem to understand that the mandate in MA is not a fine or a penalty. It’s a tax deduction. If you have health insurance you get a 1099HC form from your insurance company that proves you had coverage for the year of the return. Having that form allows you to take the deduction. In other words, they upped the taxes to accommodate the deduction. For everybody.

Not only did they raise taxes on the uninsured, all of us who were insured had our premiums go up and saw our choices go down when companies dropped plans.

I’m originally from Rhode Island and I had Ocean State which eventually became United Healthcare. I had it for 25 years. After Romneycare my company dropped it.

I moved to Florida last May. If Newt makes to Florida I’m voting for him.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | December 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

I’ve been pleading with my friends for months asking them to look at the facts about Romney’s alleged electability.

The facts are that he’s ran three campaigns (senator, governor, and president).

He lost 2 out of 3. The establishment that has relentlessly pushed the meme of his electability (including some at The Weekly Standard but especially the tools at NRO) is predicated on the fact that he has a historical record of winning 33% of the races in which he has participated. Pretty pathetic.

Now look at Gingrich. He lost his first one or two attempts at a Congressional seat in the 1970s, but after he finally won, he went undefeated for about 20 years until his resignation. And he quite literally revolutionized how Congressional races are run with his “Contract with America” in 1994. Until then, House Congressional races were localized. He nationalized that campaign and gave Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years when a whopping 54 seats flipped from Democrat to Republican. That carried over to the Senate where 9 Senate seats flipped that year and gave Republicans control of that body, too.

If you look only at the facts, you can’t help but see that Gingrich knows how to win elections. Romney…not so much.

Those are the facts.

    It is stinky that Obama also knows how to win elections….

      MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to Canusee. | December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Kinda true about Obama. But not entirely. Obama won his first Illinois state elected office by getting his mentor, Alice Palmer, thrown off the ballot after he challenged her nominating petition signatures, leaving her about 200 signatures shy of the required number. None of the other three candidates vying for the Democrat nomination had the requisite number of signatures, so they were also deemed ineligible. Obama ran unopposed in the Democrat primary in the overwhelmingly Democrat district. He won the general election by default after throwing Alice Palmer under the bus. (She endorsed Hillary in 2008).

      When it came to running for his first U.S. Congressional race, how many people are aware that when Obama challenged Bobby Rush in a primary in 2000 for Rush’s House Congressional seat, Obama went down in flames by winning only 31% of the vote? Bobby Rush crushed him by a margin of greater than 2:1.

      Then when Obama ran for his U.S. Senate seat, Axelrod somehow got his Republican opponent’s sealed divorce records leaked to the press, humiliating the opponent and forcing him to drop out of the campaign at the last minute. Alan Keyes came in at the very last minute, providing Obama with a nominal opponent. But Keyes was never expected to be the GOP candidate and wasn’t a serious contender.

      But the point of this post is questioning the conventional wisdom that Romney is the most electable GOP candidate.

      Now, you can certainly make the case the Newt’s electabilty has diminished since he left Congress. But that’s only a theory. He has not run in any races so that may or may not be true. But can you make the case that Romney’s electability has somehow improved — making his 33% success rate no longer relevant? Nobody has convincingly made that case to me.

    Getting reelected routinely in a safe House district is no big feat. A Republican running against Tec Kennedy is the political equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. You may not get to the top but lesser people would not have tried

If Herman Cain can be done in by a violent and incessant barrage from the dems and their numerous media allies, how can we not think these same forces will take out Gingrich in the eyes of most American voters? They’ve got a lot to work with and the RNC is weak and inept.

Now that the Republican Party is ALL white again (after dems used white women to ruin by allegation a smart but not-jesse-jackson black man) they have plenty of time to rehash Newts failings with women and his contract with America. If Republicans had the same billion dollar war chest, maybe.

Polls still say a “none of the above” candidate can beat Obama. Perhaps someone like that can still show up on the scene in time to energize the independents and moderate democrats tired of the fact that their party has been hijacked by Alinsky’s descendents.

Will a good sane smart young charismatic challenger please stand up?

    JayDick in reply to Chicklet. | December 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

    The problem with your analysis is that Gingrich is certainly not weak or inept. He will respond strongly to personal attacks and counter-punch like no one else in the race is capable of. His put down of Romney’s “career politician” remark is a small example.

    Obama would be a fool to agree to any debates with Gingrich.

      janitor in reply to JayDick. | December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      We can assume that Gingrich also doesn’t have any more surprise alleged female friends or paramours to cause him problems in his personal life.

        Darkstar58 in reply to janitor. | December 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

        We can assume that Gingrich also doesn’t have any more surprise alleged female friends or paramours to cause him problems in his personal life.

        No, we can assume he does have said surprise friends – but the people already know about his past issues, and have already accepted it.

        Much like the lady who came out making claims from 1977 – its all old news.

        Besides, the Democrats already shot that wad (pardon the pun) with their attacks on Cain. Doing it to Newt now as well will merely gain more sympathy and lead to more questioning of the people actually continually bringing such claims. Its a case of “we know this. And seriously, is this the only thing you can manufacture to try to smear people with?” now – which will not help Democrats, or hurt Gingrich

          Canusee in reply to Darkstar58. | December 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

          “No, we can assume he does have said surprise friends – but the people already know about his past issues, and have already accepted it.” and
          “Besides, the Democrats already shot that wad (pardon the pun) with their attacks on Cain. Doing it to Newt now as well will merely gain more sympathy and lead to more questioning of the people actually continually bringing such claims.”

          Both insightful, the best being, “….and have already accepted it.”

You can speculate all you want, Professor, but the one solid fact we have so far about Romney’s electability next November is that throughout 2011, he has consistently run even with or edged Obama in a wide variety of national polls — which is still more than can be said of any other GOP contender.

In the latest Gallup tracking poll, Mitt bests Obama again.

    JEBurke in reply to JEBurke. | December 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    To see this, you need only look at the RealClearPolitics average of polls: Romney runs even with Obama on average and has never been behind Obama by more than any particular poll’s margin error. In sharp contrast, Gingrich runs on average six points behind Obama, which is almost as bad as Ron Paul’s showing in matchups.

    This pattern can not be airily dismissed as some sort of transitory fluke because the pattern has been sustained over a long period of time and through all the ups and downs of the various notRomneys.

    This can change but right now it is impossible to deny that Romney can defeat Obama and that Gingrich would have a measurably harder climb.

[…] Romneycare: He’s A Loser Posted on December 12, 2011 3:30 pm by Bill Quick » What if everything we have been told about Mitt Romney’s electability is wrong? Part 2 – … Yet Romney’s victory was, as a matter of raw political power, less impressive than it seems. […]

romney’s biggest problem is that he’s BORING. there were a couple of brief, fleeting sparks in the last debate but, unless he can muster up a whole lot more of those moments, and refrain from using his rote talking points, he will not carry the national vote.

[…] to win. Even accepting Coulter’s premise (I don’t), it’s still lazy reasoning. As William Jacobson points out at Legal Insurrection, he was the fourth consecutive GOPer to win that job (Jacobson has his own reaction to […]